“When the going gets tough….”
“If at first you don’t succeed…”
“It’s not how often you get knocked down…”
Some of our best-known adages have to do with perseverance, with pressing on in the face of opposition, with pushing through when one wants to quit. We find something admirable, something worthy of imitation in those people who in the face of obstacles continue in their mission until it is complete. We teach perseverance to our children as a character building exercise. We may even be reading this message all the way to the end simply because we began it and feel like we should finish it (I’m that way about books–if I start one I have to finish it, no matter how bad it may be).
Scripture also witnesses to the value of perseverance in our faith journey:
“Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…”
“Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on…”
“Whoever sets his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom…”
We are taught that following Jesus, loving God and neighbor, will not always be easy or enjoyable. And we are encouraged to keep on anyway, most especially when it gets tough.
In his songs about the servant of God, Isaiah tells us that the servant has grown weary–weary of laboring in vain, weary of the futility and vanity of it all. Yet, God speaks to the servant and tells him that his perseverance will be rewarded with an even greater mission and a larger task (some reward you might say).
We see the same thing in a story of Jesus, the servant of God, who prays that his soul is troubled and he would ask God to save him from the hour. The answer he receives is that his perseverance will glorify God.
This Sunday, as we continue to “Behold the Servant,” we will look at these two stories (Isaiah 49:1-7; John 12:20-36) and reflect on “A Servant of Perseverance.” As we hear what Isaiah and the life of Jesus have to teach us, perhaps we can find ways to persevere in our own faith journeys. We will also hear from our Building to Serve program chairs with an update on our campaign as we press on to that missional calling of God to us.
I hope to see you Sunday as we celebrate and persevere together.
Grace and peace.